These women appreciate the value bacteria adds to their healthy hair routine.
We're no strangers to alternative hair-care methods. We've tested out dry shampoos, to cut down our showers; we've used only conditioner and tried the no-poo method; we've even taken some showers with just water. There's always a new discussion on how to achieve great hair health, and how to cut down on our use of harsh chemicals and beauty products. For women in one village in China, the natural secret to their record-breaking long hair is in their kitchens.
For the women in the village of Huangluo, their hair is their most cherished accessory. They only cut it once in their lives, at age 18, when they begin to look for a husband. Women in the village wear their hair in different styles to indicate their stage in life; youth, marriage, and motherhood. Their hair is imbued with sanctity, symbolism, and a secret ingredient -- fermented rice water.
These women collect the water used to rinse rice and ferment it into a hair rinse, which they use exclusively. The rice rinse is fermented for a few days, then heated to end the fermentation process before the women massage it into their hair and scalp. These women appreciate the value bacteria adds to their healthy hair routine; fermentation is an integral part of their culture, history, and aesthetic. Even in old age, they sport thick, lustrous, deep-black hair. Interested in trying it yourself? You're not the only one. Some women believe so strongly in their fermented rice hair rinse that they've developed relationships with their local Chinese restaurant, and get their rice water in restaurant-sized bulk.
The shampoo market is booming, as women -- and men -- spend their shower time massaging chemicals into their hair in hopes of achieving their ideal hair health. Maybe these women have a different sort of answer, in their efforts to rethink healthy hair.